Commentary: Hochul’s justice system budget skimps on defense

The impact of the funding shortfall is especially pronounced in New York City, as low salaries and the skyrocketing cost of living have led to an exodus of experienced defense attorneys and staff. This loss of qualified public defenders, many of whom would have made this vital work their lifelong career if it was sustainable, is a threat to the people facing trial who deserve fair representation.


Even more than a balanced financial plan, a budget should be a statement of balanced priorities. Public defenders with a reasonable caseload can be ready to proceed to trial in a timely manner, helping to reduce stays in deadly jails like Rikers Island. More importantly, defenders bridge the gap in services to many people who are arrested, including identifying issues with mental health and substance use as well as obtaining services that may help avoid incarceration altogether.

View the full Times Union opinion piece here.

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